I’m not a particularly proactive person. Occasionally I have these vague notions of doing something that rarely materialize into anything more. In the days after Christmas, I frequently found myself with a hand stuck in a bag of Lindt balls, the back pocket of my jeans bulging with discarded Lindt wrappers, thinking ‘I should stop eating so many sweets….Tomorrow I will stop eating sweets……okay, the day after tomorrow I am going to stop eating sweets.’
And then it was February 1. A friend mentioned on Facebook how she and her husband were halfway through a 30-day challenge slash cleanse. Upon closer inspection (i.e. after clicking on the link she’d posted) I learned it involved eating nothing but meat, fruit and vegetables. With a handful of nuts thrown in.
And then it was February 2 and the professor said ‘did you hear Philip Seymour Hoffman died?’ I had visions of being found dead with my hand in a bag of Lindt balls, a piece of cake still in my mouth. So I coerced the professor into jumping on the wagon with me.
The longest, most horrendous wagon, as it turned out.
No dairy, no chickpeas, no beans, no lentils (in addition to the obvious bans on wheat and sugar.) On day 2, I tried to exude positivity: ‘we’re almost there!’ I attempted to cheer on my ‘why-am-I-doing-this’ better half. ‘Almost there? We’re not even 10% of the way there,’ he broke it down for me.
Back in November I’d tried to address my sugar habit. I made it 6 days before falling into a piece of cake. Now I’d have to go 30 days which, I’m pretty sure, is 5 times as long as my previous best record.
I somehow stumbled onto a timeline of ‘what to expect’ while on this gem of a challenge. From the looks of things, it looked like there would be a 3 day window – from day 12 to 15 – when I’d be feeling really great. The rest of the time I’d either be in detox-hell or in let’s-be-done-with-this-already-hell.
As luck would have it, the professor left town on day 4 which, I didn’t need the timeline to tell me, was around the time my desire to ‘kill all things’ began. Lucky for him, he got a reprieve from (some of) crazy Nicola. Unlucky for him, he had to hunt and gather suitable food while at a conference in Winterpeg, Manitoba. Nearly all of his communication detailed the state of his hunger or his inability to eat anything in the bread and dairy centric conference meals.
I, on the other hand, had the brilliant luck of making a meal for off-the-wagon-friends, tears falling into the sticky toffee pudding that would not touch my lips; the roasted fingerling potatoes I could only smell.
I spent the better part of an hour trying to make a version of Rick Bayless’ Mexican chicken soup I could eat. (Without the tortillas or the chihuahua cheese.) At some point while the soup was simmering on the stove, I went to put something in the 415 degree oven. And found an empty 9 x 13 glass casserole dish left behind after a not-so-thorough cleaning frenzy. I reached for the kettle to pour some water in the filthy dish and kaboom! it shattered into a thousand pieces. At least.
I was cleaning up the considerable aftermath, when I had a nagging thought: had any shards of glass fallen into my simmering soup? Truth be told, I was hungry, and I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing away an entire pot of soup. So I strained it and hoped the glisteny sounds I heard on occasion as my spoon scraped the bowl were undissolved salt crystals, not tiny shards of glass about to travel through my intestines.
(No mention of glass on the ‘banned’ food list, though.)
Usually, when the professor leaves town, I have some sort of treat-stash to keep me going. This time….I had nothin’. Finally, on Saturday afternoon, when I still had 24 hours of solo parenting and detox-hell to go, I broke down…and bought a Vogue magazine. The only magazine guaranteed not to have any pictures of food.
The next morning I got a text from my neighbor. ‘Come over for pancakes.’ I sat on a stool forcing myself to sip the black coffee in front of me (seriously, who can drink black coffee!) while everyone else ate pancakes.
A few hours later we picked up the frozen professor wearing his enormous puffy coat. I handed him a snack as soon as he got in the car. We lamented the constant headaches and the exhaustion. ‘Yeah, but on day 15 we’re going to have tiger blood,’ I attempted to sound cheery. ‘What’s tiger blood, anyway?’ he scoffed. ‘I don’t know, but Charlie Sheen has it.
Livin’ the dream: Homemade almond milk, hemp seeds, banana, almond butter and dates